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Nebraska’s horses featured in TV documentary

Nebraska Public Media will premiere a documentary in March featuring the unique roles of working horses.

February 23, 2022

3 Min Read
White horses grazing
WORKHORSE: Horses have played a crucial role in the history of Nebraska, but they continue to be an important part of life on farms and ranches, and in cities and towns. These horses are grazing near Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park in Elyria. Curt Arens

With elegant, finely chiseled faces and deep, expressive eyes, horses are the stuff of dreams. In Nebraska, they are also part of history and Hollywood, racing, rodeos, and ranches.

Nebraska Public Media premieres its newest TV documentary, “Saddle Up Nebraska’s Working Horses,” at 8:30 p.m. March 2, with a look at all things equine and the people who bond with horses for work, therapy and play.

First up is the story of Nebraska’s own White Horse Troupe and its internationally recognized performing white horses. The original ranch near Naper, Neb., no longer exists, but between 1938 and the death of owner Cal Thompson in 1963, the troupe toured the U.S. and Canada with shows featuring horsemanship, jumping, trick riding and more.

At Otter Creek Ranch in Lewellen, Neb., K.C. Peterson shares stories about his 40 years of experience training horses to perform in Hollywood movies, including the “The Lone Ranger,” “Cowboys and Aliens,” “Maverick” and the Robert Redford film “The Horse Whisperer.”

Racing roots

Horse racing roots run deep in Nebraska. Omaha’s Ak-Sar-Ben, which was the state’s oldest track, opened in 1920, and Fonner Park in Grand Island has been running for nearly 70 years. The documentary traces the history, challenges and successes of live and simulcast racing, and examines the future of the horse racing industry in Nebraska.

Related:Keeping your ranch horses working

In Burwell, Neb., “Saddle Up Nebraska’s Working Horses” follows the story of rodeo in Nebraska and features a high school rodeo participant who carries flags at Nebraska’s biggest outdoor rodeo.

Horse lovers can train these smart, willing animals for many purposes. Owners at the Pitzer Ranch in Ericson, Neb., explain how they breed horses suited for both rodeo and the show ring. Owners and trainers at Haythorn Land and Cattle Co., a fifth-generation Quarter Horse breeder, prepare horses to work on their ranch in Arthur, Neb., and at ranches across the U.S.

Back in Burwell, the show visits Rowse’s 1 + 1 Guest Ranch, a working cattle ranch where guests can spend up to six hours a day on horseback, helping with chores and upkeep.

In Omaha, “Saddle Up Nebraska’s Working Horses” rides along with the city’s mounted patrol and explores their state-of-the-art facility, which includes offices, a tack room, stalls and a heated indoor arena. The Omaha Mounted Patrol is one of the few remaining active horse patrol units in the region.

In Firth, Neb., horse professionals, parents, teachers and health care specialists formed Horses for Healing. Believing in the unique healing power of horses, the organization helps people of all ages and abilities learn ways to overcome physical, emotional, social, developmental and mental challenges.

Throughout “Saddle Up Nebraska’s Working Horses,” Kathleen Anderson, a professor in the Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, offers simple lessons about horses and their role in our society.

Learn more about horses in Nebraska and the documentary “Saddle Up Nebraska’s Working Horses” online at nebraskapublicmedia.org. The program repeats on Nebraska Public Media at 8 p.m. CST March 5 and 8:30 p.m. CST March 8.

Source: Nebraska Public Media, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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